Newly discovered diaries supposedly written by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in the run-up to World War II are fakes, according to an Italian magazine.
L’Espresso magazine said it was offered the diaries — which a prominent Italian politician had said were authentic and would soon be published — in November 2004 but turned them down because they were bogus.
“Wrong names, grammatical errors, chronological discrepancies, inconsistencies and inaccuracies,” said Emilio Gentile, a prominent historian whom the magazine commissioned to verify the diaries.
“There are good reasons to doubt that the author of these five was Benito Mussolini,” he wrote in his report.
Sen. Marcello Dell’Utri stood by his assertion that the books were real. When published, probably within the next six to 12 months, they would show the world the human face of the man who ruled from 1922 and took Italy into a disastrous alliance with Adolf Hitler, he said.
“The diaries are authentic,” Dell’Utri told Reuters. “There will be more checks, historians will make more studies and we will see who is right.”
Dell’Utri, a close business associate of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, said among the publishers interested in the diaries was Mondadori which is controlled by Berlusconi’s family.
Both L’Espresso and Dell’Utri said an Italian partisan supposedly acquired the diaries after the Resistance arrested the deposed Mussolini in 1945. The former dictator was killed shortly afterward and his body hanged in a square in Milan.
In one excerpt published in the Italian press, Mussolini apparently expresses misgivings about joining World War II.
“We cannot and we must not take up arms, which in any case we don’t have,” Mussolini is quoted as writing.
“There’s nothing that will change history, it’s not going to rehabilitate Mussolini,” Dell’Utri said. “But it shows the man, his state of mind.... It puts a human face on Benito Mussolini.”
Verbatim copying alleged
According to L’Espresso, many parts of the diaries appear to have been copied, word-for-word, from newspaper accounts of Mussolini’s engagements. The author also seems to make several elementary spelling mistakes and mixes up the identities of key contemporary and historical figures.
The Mussolini diaries also give an unconvincingly homely portrait of a man who championed heroic, manly virtues, it says.
“Mussolini’s diaries present him as a rather romantic and sentimental man, almost subdued,” it quotes the historian Gentile as saying. “Quite the opposite of the historical character who has a public image of a man who lived by the maxim ‘live dangerously.’”